North American LCS teams have been relatively tame in their meta adaptations. Many NA teams have avoided the perceived randomness of the 8.11 and 8.12 meta games, opting for standard compositions instead. While it’s common to see flex champions, roles and players in other regions, it is uncommon to see these in NA. There is one exception though. The major exception is with team Echo Fox. One player specifically stands out among the FOX crew, their so-called top laner, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon.
Huni is one of the most respected top laners in the world, playing in multiple regional finals and competing in multiple World Championships. He has been known for his aggressive, carry-oriented style throughout his career. It certainly shows in the 8.11 and 8.12 metas displayed in weeks one and two of the LCS.
The 2018 Spring Split allowed Huni to showcase impressive carry performances on champions like Camille, Gnar and Gangplank. He was able to lead his team to secure third place in NA. The meta then was relatively normal, but still looked good for Huni, who still excelled on tanks when he needed to.
If Spring looked good for Huni, the Summer Split proved to be even better. Perfect, some may say. Indeed, Huni called it his meta in an interview segment during an NA LCS broadcast. Carry champions are all the rave this split, and bruiser champions are considered strong no matter where they are put. This means a plethora of carry champions and bruisers, including Huni’s esteemed Yasuo, are open to play. Huni’s dominant laning picks and preferred play style are now the meta, and we can see he couldn’t be happier.
FOX’s Unique Adaptation
FOX, with three wins and one loss, is certainly taking advantage of this situation. In all of their games so far, their drafts have been puzzling, and surprises are common. Echo Fox’s drafts are similar to the Chinese and Korean approaches. Strong picks are prioritized, while the overall team composition isn’t finalized until 10 champions are locked in.
Using this style, the team is able to grab strong picks and move them around to avoid counter-picks. Thus, the lanes are enabled to win lane and win game. FOX, in three of their games, demonstrated how powerful this technique can be.
In week two, FOX was handed their first loss against OpTic. The gold funneling strategy was debuted by both teams, and though they managed to trade even for a while, OPT won out. FOX’s fourth game was a blood bath, which suited the team very well. It is mostly clear that FOX’s style is working great for them, and many teams struggle to adjust to their bloody, early game focused approach.
The interesting thing to note from all these games is that Huni played a different role in all of them. He played bot lane, jungle and mid before even playing his official top lane role. The reason for this is simple. As stated earlier, this is Huni’s meta. Wherever the Echo Fox team plans to carry from, Huni is sure to be there.
Method to the Madness
The reason Huni is swapping into all these different positions is that he has the mechanical skill and experience needed to pilot champions such as Yasuo, Taliyah and Irelia. While they are now considered meta picks, many champions are now in different roles than they were previously. Players now have to attempt to play new things, or fail. Taliyah in the jungle is difficult for many junglers, who have never played her until 8.11. Mages and bruisers are likewise hard for ADC mains to play because traditional marksmen have been the bot lane meta picks for so long.
Why have Altec learn Yasuo to play on stage when Huni has been playing it for years? Instead, FOX has adapted and instead of moving champions around, they decide to move the players. It is much easier to learn a tank like Dr. Mundo than it is to learn the mechanically intensive Yasuo. The same is true for Taliyah, Huni showed his proficiency at it, and Dardoch, as a long time Rengar player, stuck with that and played it top against Clutch Gaming.
Echo Fox has a read on the meta unlike many other NA teams, and it suits them very well. Huni is clearly the focal point of their strategy for his adaptability and carry potential. FOX’s drafts are sure to continue to excite as the split progresses, and while the meta may settle down, it is unlikely FOX and Huni will.
Featured image via Riot Games and LoL Esports.
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